Preserving winter squash

Explore the bright colors of different squash varieties available at the farmers market.

Fall is a time of bright colors at the farmers market. Just walking through the market is a festival of color for the eyes with all of the brightly colored produce, particularly the winter squash. Whether your favorite is acorn, buttercup, butternut, or Hubbard squash, they are all very nutritious. They are excellent sources of Vitamin A and fiber.

When selecting winter squash for eating and storage, select squash with the stem intact. Do not choose any with shriveled, blackened or moist stems or spoilage will occur.

Michigan State University Extension recommends washing your hands before handling produce. Try using a vegetable brush and cool running water to scrub the winter squash before cutting or cooking the squash. Do not use soap to scrub the squash. Do not wash the squash before it is stored.

Whole winter squash likes to be stored in a cool (about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry place. If stored properly most varieties will last up to three months. A cut squash will last about one week in the refrigerator.

Preserving winter squash

To freeze winter squash select firm, mature squash with a hard rind. Cook until the squash is soft. You can cook it in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker or in an oven. Remove the pulp from the rind and mash.  The cooked pulp of spaghetti squash does not need mashing.

To cool, place the container of winter squash in cold water and stir occasionally. When the squash is sufficiently cool, package it in a rigid plastic container (leaving a ½ inch headspace) or a plastic freezer bag being sure to remove all of the air. Seal the package. Label and date the package. Freeze.

For more information about different ways to preserve winter squash, check out this information bulletin from MSU Extension.

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